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NPD Results, October 2010: Industry Dips 4 Percent On Slow Hardware Sales

NPD Results, October 2010: Industry Dips 4 Percent On Slow Hardware Sales

November 16, 2010 | By Kyle Orland

November 16, 2010 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC

The NPD Group announced tracking results for new U.S. retail video game sales in October, showing overall revenues for the industry dropping four percent compared to the same month last year.

The industry as a whole saw $1.07 billion in new hardware, software and accessory sales for the month, down from $1.11 billion in October 2009. For the year as a whole, the industry has generated $11.07 billion in new sales; that's roughly $900 million, or eight percent, behind the pace set by 2009.


A severe 26 percent drop in year-over-year revenue from new hardware sales drove the overall decline in the October report. Sales of home and portable consoles brought in just $280 million in October 2010, compared to $381 million for the same month last year.

While NPD no longer breaks down hardware sales for specific systems, the group did reveal that the Nintendo DS was the month's best selling system.

The Xbox 360 was the only system to increase unit sales on a year-to-year basis, however. Microsoft community manager Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb said the company sold 325,000 units in the month, bringing the system to 3.5 million sales for the year so far.

NPD confirmed that this number makes the Xbox 360 the best-selling home system so far in 2010, while the Nintendo DS remains the best-selling system for the year overall.


Sales of new, boxed software were up six percent year-over-year in October, representing $605 million in revenue in 2010. The increase wasn't enough to help 2010 software sales on an annual basis, however, which currently sit at $5.54 billion and still trail those at the same point in 2009 by seven percent.

Sales of online-enabled games seem to be driving the industry for the month. "Interestingly, unit sales of online playable console games were up 16 percent while sales of those that are not online playable were down 2 percent versus last October," NPD analyst Anita Frazier noted.

Sports titles made a strong showing in the month, with Take-Two's new release NBA 2K11 taking the top spot and EA Sports' previous releases of FIFA Soccer 11 and Madden 11 staying in the top 10 for another month.

Bethesda's October release of Fallout: New Vegas took the month's second sales position. The Xbox 360 version of the game sold 679,000 units for the month to become the month's highest-selling single-system SKU, NPD reported.

EA's Medal of Honor reboot, which some analysts expected to lead the sales rankings for the month, finished in third place, while other new October releases including Microsoft's Fable III and LucasArts' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II rounded out the top five.

"As compared to last October, new launches were more productive this year," Frazier said. "Average unit sales per new SKU were 23 percent higher than newly introduced SKU's last year."

Frazier also made special note of sales for Rock Band 3, which ranked in 15th place for October across platforms despite only being available for the final six days of the month. "Based on solid reviews, this game has the potential to perform well over the holidays," she said.

[UPDATE: Microsoft revealed that, in additional to New Vegas, Xbox 360 titles represented six of the top-ten single-system SKUs for the month, including the top four titles. Fable III, NBA 2K11, Medal of Honor, Halo: Reach and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II were among the top-selling titles on the system, according to the company.

Microsoft also revealed monthly sales numbers for Fable III and Halo: Reach, as shown in the below sales rankings chart.]

Sales of new, retail games in the U.S. for October are ranked as follows:

1. NBA 2K11 (Take-Two Interactive, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC)
2. Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda Softworks, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
3. Medal of Honor (Electronic Arts, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
4. Fable III (Microsoft, Xbox 360) 580,000 units*
5. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (LucasArts, Xbox 360, PS3, WII, PC, NDS)
6. Halo: Reach (Microsoft, Xbox 360) 315,000 units*
7. Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft, Wii)
8. FIFA Soccer 11 (Electronic Arts, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PSP, NDS, PC)
9. Madden NFL 11 (Electronic Arts, Xbox 360, PS3, WII, PS2, PSP)
10. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 (THQ, PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, WII, PSP)
* - Numbers provided by Microsoft


Accessories were the most-improved sector of the new boxed video game market for the second straight month in October, up 18 percent year-over-year to represent $142 million in total revenue across the industry.

For the year, accessory sales are actually six percent higher than at this point in 2009, at $1.66 billion in sales.

PlayStation Move items -- which include the PlayStation Eye Camera, wand controller and analog-stick-equipped sub-controller -- represented the top two best-selling specialty controller items for the month, according to Frazier, helping drive the average sale price for accessories up sharply for the month.

Microsoft's 3D camera-based Kinect controller won't show up until November's sales report, but reports from Microsoft suggest brisk sales so far.

"Due to the success of the Move at retail, and the reported success of the Kinect early in its launch at retail, Specialty Controller items should contribute significantly to industry sales during the holiday," Frazier said.

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